PWDs call for domestication of Disability Act in Ebonyi




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Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) has called on the Ebonyi government to domestic the National Disability Act signed by President Buhari in 2019.

association made the call on Friday in Abakaliki at a bi-monthly meeting organised by the Economic and Social Empowerment of Rural Communities (ESERC) in collaboration with the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.

Mr Franklin Chieme, chairman of state chapter of JONAPWD, said that domesticating the disability law in Ebonyi would go a long way in addressing many of the challenges confronting the members.

He said that group had made several attempts to get the state government to initiate a process that would lead to the enactment of the Ebonyi version of the national disability law.

Chieme expressed displeasure that since 2019, when law was passed, every effort made by the union to get the Ebonyi government to domestic it had been rebuffed through bureaucratic bottleneck.

“Since this disability Act came into being in 2019, all our efforts to domesticate it in state has proved abortive as those in government frustrate the efforts toward that.

“We are being marginalised in virtually everything, including political appointments and even in way our public buildings are designed and constructed we are not considered.

“We are looked at as sub-humans and without a law to protect our rights, we are only left to mercy of the leaders.

“The act when domesticated, will provide us with legal instruments to challenge most of the ill treatments meted to members, hence, we are appealing to ESERC to assist in making the law a reality in the state,” Chieme said.

Mr Ifeanyi Nwokporo, coordinator JONAPWD in Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone, comprising Ezza North, Ezza South, Ikwo and Ishielu Local Government Areas (LGAs) urged governments at all levels to prioritise welfare of persons with disabilities.

He regretted that persons with disabilities suffer discrimination and other forms of neglect, stressing that domestication of the disability act, would significantly address the challenges.

“The meeting is a welcome development because it provides a platform for us to express our feelings regarding our challenges and, as well, get response from the ESERC.

“We believe that ESERC under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative will take up this struggle and ensure that the state government and the Ebonyi House of Assemby will expedite action toward enacting disability act,” Nwokporo said.

A participant, Mr Sunday Ede, said that public buildings were not designed to accommodate persons with disabilities, thereby making it difficult for them to access most public facilities in the state.

”For instance, if one goes to the hospital, you will be required to go to different sections, for one thing or the other and this limits one’s access,” he said.

Mr John Chukwu, a participant, noted that persons with disabilities in the state were given subhuman treatment and were looked at as inferior people.

“We are treated as second-class citizens and with contempt. This is mostly done by the politicians who use us for cheap publicity especially during election campaigns,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ikechukwu Nwaogu, Project Manager of ESERC, while responding that the organisation would take the lead in making sure that the Disability Act was domesticated in the state.

He said that advocacy would be made to stakeholders and to the Ebonyi House of Assembly, to initiate a process that would lead to the eventual domestication of the Act.

“Our organisation will support your struggle to achieve the dream of domesticating the disability Act, as well as help you to overcome other social and economic challenges confronting members.

(NAN)